Batman: Arkham Origins’ senior producer on how — and when — to move the needle (interview)

Batman: Arkham Origins 4

GamesBeat: This Batman is two years into his career as a costumed vigilante. It’s not Year One; it’s Year Three. That seems like a pretty deliberate choice. So what kind of perspective did you want to bring to this 75-year-old character?

Mattes: We’re not trying to tell an origin story. We’re trying to tell an early-career Batman story. We’re fond of saying that our Batman makes mistakes, but when he makes mistakes, he makes awesome mistakes. It’s not so early that he’s still tripping over his cape.

We wanted to bring Batman back to a place where he was scary, where people who saw Batman wished they hadn’t. A lot of people don’t know about him here. They don’t know he exists. When they find out he exists, they want to forget that they ever met him. There’s a certain familiarity that Batman has later on in his career. He becomes part of the establishment. He shows up on the street and the cops say, “Hey, what’s up?” That’s not the Batman story we wanted to tell. We wanted to tell a Batman story about him setting the explosive gel, blowing the door, standing there backlit with the smoke in his face and his eyes glowing, and people freaking out and running.

GamesBeat: The last Arkham game had a few narrative threads that were clearly building up to something major for the next game. Why let that go to do something completely different?

Mattes: Given that we’re a new studio participating in the franchise, it was important for us to carve out our own creative headroom. We wanted to stay 100 percent consistent with the Arkham universe and make sure we’re not invalidating any of this established canon, but have room to tell our own story.

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GamesBeat: What’s going to make this version of Batman stand out in fans’ memories 10 years or 15 years from now?

Mattes: There’s something exciting about saying this is the first time Batman and the these key characters have met and being able to tell origin stories not about the characters but about their relationships. It’s not the 50,000th time the Joker’s broken out of Arkham Asylum. One of the measures of success for this project, if people look back and say, “When those characters met, that was the best time I ever saw them meet,” I’ll be very proud.

GamesBeat: Tell me about the moment where you personally got excited about Arkham Origins.

Mattes: I had one last week. I was doing a start-to-finish playthrough, working on one of the [optional] Most Wanted missions, and I stopped and looked over at Eric [Holmes, creative director] and Matthieu [Raymond, producer], and I said, “Yeah, we’re making something special.” Everyone smiled and we had one of those knowing moments. This wasn’t actually a Most Wanted that we’re talking about yet, but I had followed all of these steps, and I was brought to a particular encounter with a particular character I’m very fond of, in a very cool set-dressed interior location, and I just said, “Wow. We’ve made something special here.”

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